A Broken Sister Relationship
has been a catalyst for so much change in my life in the past two years! Her books, words of encouragement and television shows have helped me with getting over a break-up and work on personal growth.
Ever heard of her? Iyanla Vanzant is an inspirational speaker, lawyer, author, life coach, and television personality. I adore her show FIX MY LIFE on OWN. However, many people criticize her methods. I believe that Ms. Vanzant is wise, caring and TOUGH! Changing our selves or changing detrimental thought patterns and actions are extremely difficult tasks. I believe that we can't have someone helping us that will sugar coat our NONSENSE.
I just recently discovered that she has had a Youtube channel and a series called R SPOT for about a year. The episode that struck me the other day called A Broken Relationship ( Part 2 ) Family. It's interesting how life works because I'm right in the middle of my 31-day challenge and probably one of my biggest sore points of life is being addressed!
"While there may be a blood connection.......This doesn't always mean that there is a RELATIONSHIP between people who share blood and ancestors."
The quote above was how Iyanla begins to unpack the insightful episode. I can wholeheartedly relate because as the youngest of 4 ( 3 girls and 1 boy ) there is a 15 year age gap between me and the sister before me. Coming up, I felt like an only child. By the time I got to the developmental stage where building relationships were at the forefront of my understanding, my siblings were all adults. My experience at that age was life was going on all around little old me, with no real connection to my 3 older siblings.
I remember myself as a sensitive, quiet but curious type of kid. When I look back I remember tons of fun at school or with the kids in the neighborhood but my mom was pretty strict so I was mostly in the house or in my backyard. At home though, I feel like I was mostly seen and not heard. From the beginning there wasn't a foundation for any real relationships with my siblings, I was just the little sister.
"A relationship is the way two or more people are connected in the state of being connected, how they relate to one another, how they treat one another."
My oldest sister was in another state and my brother eventually took his wife and children out of state as well. The sister right before me, my mother and I lived in Connecticut for many years to come. Aside from my sister having children, a relationship and life of her own, there was still that 15 year age gap. Honestly, I was too young at the time to really be able to make sense out of it now but we had a really negative relationship from the start. One where I felt unheard, cast aside and picked on for the most part. In my experience, that dynamic carried on for many years and never really evolved.
I felt like I was always just the kid sister, right, the nuisance. My siblings all had their bond from growing up together, leaning on each other in adulthood and sharing memories that I wasn't a part of. So for my other siblings that left the state, there was no real connection, except it wasn't the same hostile relationship I had with the sister before me.
" A relationship, even a family relationship has to have an emotional connection and unfortunately in many families for a variety of reasons the emotional bond or tie either never existed or is broken."
I spent many years carrying those feelings, however, have what I call reverence for my siblings. I've looked up to my sisters all of my life. I have always referred to them as "Power Houses" In my eyes, they could run the world. They have always been very responsible, great mothers, great daughters, and just overall good women. I wanted to make them proud by all means. Honestly, I just took whatever closeness I could from them. Until in my adulthood I really realized that our foundation and how I grew up really was a source of brokenness for me. I never felt guided, heard or taught any real lessons. In my mind, I felt my sisters should have guided me through school, my emotions, boys, feelings, getting into college, you know tell each other everything, the " I'm going to tell my sister!" privilege. I legit always felt like I missed out on something that could have really made an impact on my life. About a year or so ago, before I was baptized, I asked God to take every inch of brokenness and resentment I felt. I prayed to forgive them and move forward. However, Iyanla said two very profound statements that I NEEDED to hear and remind myself.
"In a family breakdown the first thing you should do is surrender all judgment or expectations."
"People do what they do base on who they are and the information they have."
I believe that I've been carrying those expectations all of this time and that I forget that they may have experienced their relationship with me very differently AND I forget that they were grown women, living a life that I couldn't understand until adulthood. They had their own responsibilities, relationships, hurts, and experiences. In all honesty, though, that brings me to feeling a lack of value, like I wasn't a priority.
" You get to choose how to be in a relationship with them and they get to choose how to be in a relationship with you."
Recently, during a really tough period of my life, my relationship with my sisters went from shallow and rocky to non-existent. I felt once again that one sister didn't support me and the other even went as far as to say very hurtful things. Initially, I was very angry and sad, however, I decided to forgive them both. After the fallout, I also decided to no longer be in a relationship with my siblings. I made the decisions for my self, I felt like there is more harm than good that I feel because of MY EXPERIENCE.
Iyanla asks that we " DO OUR PART" by asking ourselves how we contributed or how long did we let the negative behavior continue. After evaluation, I now see that maybe I didn't have the language when I was younger but when I decided to give that brokenness to God as an adult, it should have come with a conversation where I was transparent about how I've felt throughout the years and how I longed for a healthy relationship with them all. How needing them and feeling like I didn't really have any real relationship or emotional connection to them had always been hurtful to me.
I must admit that through the negative relationship with my sister before me, I never felt protected or taken up for. I must also admit that in my adulthood I should have communicated boundaries better. At times, when people aren't in positive places in their life they tend to choose the closest people to lash out on. I take responsibility for allowing myself to be treated poorly and not ask for what I needed. My poor communication and lack of boundaries made a hard situation harder. Sometimes, we need space to really examine a situation without all of the intense emotions.
Healing past hurts is never easy, however, the reality is if the relationship is important than the confrontation is necessary! I believe now that even if it would have resulted in a blow-up, I would have at least given myself the opportunity to be clear about what I felt and put the ball in their court to continue on the same path or honor what I needed.
This goes for any relationship really, people aren't perfect and will hurt you, that's just a reality. Working through all of the hurt and pain is necessary so that the end result isn't losing important bonds.
"Even though addressing old hurts can be painful, letting them fester can result in lost a long-term bond. Instead of letting old wounds fester we must learn to address them and repair them so that all of us can come out stronger on the other side."
My take away is to take responsibility for your part, look at the situation objectively, communicate clearly and...
Pray, Forgive, Let Go!
Until next time,